I’m currently living over 10,000 miles from home having moved to Sydney, Australia, to continue my career as a beauty therapist. From a young age there were hints as to what I wanted to be, I was always testing techniques on my mum and my brother. But it wasn’t until later when we had career questionnaires at school, I decided I wasn’t suited to sitting down all day and wanted to work with people. So, I did one day per week beauty therapy training while I was still at school, it was great being creative and hands-on.

I first heard of WorldSkills UK Competitions when my college got involved. My lecturer said, “you should do it.” I was incredibly nervous at the start but really surprised myself when I won first place in the 2015 regional competition. In 2016 I went on to win the Gold Medal in the National Finals and then a few year I was lucky enough to travel to Kazan Russia to represent Team UK at WorldSkills. The most challenging thing was the equipment and products being different, but we had some familiarisation time to deal with that. I was shocked, excited and proud when I won a gold medal. 

Photo of Rebecca competing internationally in the Beauty Therapy Competition

The biggest challenge for me was the mindset training which is unique to WorldSkills UK. We had to talk and open up really quickly and get into our competitive mindset.

My favourite parts of competing were the trips we got to take, like going to the training bootcamps. It was all so strange, visiting different towns and meeting other competitors. I learned a lot, not just about technical skills, but also time management, working to lean principles, competence and independence as well as self-confidence. It was also about learning technical tips from other competitors and spurring each other on to keep going. I’d 100% recommend anyone thinking of competing to go ahead and do it.

Competing has certainly helped my career progression. I’ve developed skills-wise, improved my timing and become much more of a perfectionist. As a result, I got a pay rise and now having senior therapist on my CV definitely helps. I’ve always wanted to be a beauty therapist and ideally, I’d like to work on weddings and celebrity events. It’s a hard area to get into and out of hair, beauty and makeup, I much prefer beauty. The thing I like most about the profession is that it’s different every single day, literally no two days are the same, It’s so exciting. Sometimes I’m training younger therapists, getting involved in marketing and working with different kinds of people. I think the highlight of my career so far has been receiving and MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2020. But my industry recognises the medals I have won in competing even more than that.

I think being a beauty therapist is a great career and to perform at your best you need to have an open mind, be willing to learn and have drive and passion to do well in the industry. I’d say you need to do every course you can and just keep going. It’s very competitive so you need to train as much as possible.

For myself in the longer term, I’d like to have my own business which would include training others and passing on the skills and approaches I’ve learned. It’s something I think I would be good at because all of my training has pushed me to aim higher. I came to Australia on a 417 working holiday visa and through my partner was exempt from having to do the usual agricultural work to qualify to stay. I’ve found that in Australia there are fewer salons that do a little bit of everything. Instead, they tend to specialise in one or two aspects of the industry which made finding a job I enjoyed difficult, as I love a varied day!

All the skills I developed in the UK have served me well for working in Australia. For now, Covid restrictions are having a dramatic effect here and so it’s not possible to work at the moment. Once lockdown is over, I have a new role as a beauty trainer at the award-winning SEIR (Succeed, Educate, Innovate, Reward) Beauty School here in Sydney, so I’ll be teaching and also studying for my Training and Assessment Certificate which is endorsed by the Australian Industry and Skills Committee. Right now my aim is to help the SEIR beauty school develop its offering further.

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